Sunday, March 26, 2006

Heavyweight ABC Ecclesiastics Bob "Bomber" Roberts and Dale "Slammer" Salico Spar a Few Rounds in PSW Last Saturday; No One Bloodied

This past Saturday an interesting debate took place in the Pacific Southwest. Dr. Bob Roberts, former Executive Minister, Interim General Secretary, and World Mission Support person for the ABCUSA presented the case for not withdrawing from the ABCUSA; Dr. Dale Salico, Executive Minister for the PSW, offered the reasons why the region was recommending separation from the ABCUSA. The forum, open to all interested parties and hosted by the First Baptist Church of Santa Ana. It featured 25 minute presentations followed by 10 minutes of rebuttal or questions, with questions posed by the moderator, and closing statements (6 minutes each).

Ample instructive documents were provided to those in attendance. On the “stay within the ABC” side may be listed Roberts’ “Ten Reasons Why I Would Not leave the ABCUSA,” a letter by Dr. David Scholer of Fuller Seminary against withdrawing, a print out from the web page of The Association of American Baptists in the Pacific Southwest (the name chosen by the denominational loyalists), a testimony from Rev. Janey Smith, an opinion piece by layman Rupert Nelson, and an editorial by the former editor of the AWAB InSpiriter, “We Read the Same Bible: Why Do We Get Such Different Answers?” Favoring separation were three pieces by Dr. Dale Salico, including “A Time to Speak the Truth in Love,” “Biblical Principles for Tough Issues Separating Christians,” and “Convictions, Core Values, and Conscience.”

First hand reports say Salico offered a modified form of presentation he has already used in nearly a dozen regional town hall meetings. It features a brief history of the ABC crisis and reasons why the region board and Dr. Salico felt that decisive action was so warranted. Salico was calm, measured, and methodical.

Roberts, known as one of the most passionate and effective communicators in the ABC, reportedly employed his trademark persuasion skills to appeal to the persons in the audience not to "go with the flow" of the regional board and the leadership of Dr. Salico. In addition to his verbal presentation, his widely distributed list of reasons for remaining with the denomination was made available. Since I was unable to attend the debate, my interaction in a future posting will be based on the written points of Bob's article, which included:

1. A variety of evidences of God’s blessing on the ABCUSA.
2. Confusion regarding continuing ABCPSW relationships (i.e., the problem of “schism a la carte”).
3, The call of stewardship as against mere consumerism.
4, Baptist tradition rooted in Scripture.
5. At least seven specific financial benefits provided by MMBB only to those in ABC churches.
6. The tension between judgmentalism vs. service – (i.e., God called us to serve one another in love not “judgmentally ruling people with whom I disagree out of the Kingdom of Christ”).
7. Freedom in Christ would be limited by restricting fellowship to those “who agree with me.”
8. Diversity is enhanced in the ABC. Roberts fears that ABCPSW would end up affiliating with the SBC or might end up as “another isolated, small, homogeneous Baptist group.”
9. Avoiding the errors of previous historical separations in 1932 and 1947 where “conservatives lost their commitment to social ministry, and the liberals lost their evangelical edge.”
10. Good News – you don’t have to leave! The newly forming organization of the Association of American Baptists in the Pacific Southwest will provide a way to stay in the ABCUSA as will Dr. Sam Chetti’s willingness to provide “watch care” for that organization.

Both men were reportedly quite cordial to each other and emphasized their history of working together in denominational endeavors.

[His Barking Dog is no more likely to speak for the PSW or any other official entity than Dr. Salico is to become the new president of the Roger Williams Fellowship; my barking reflects only my own snarling]

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